Maara: For The Wanderer Within You

Dhilip Kumar’s Maara is one of those films which need patient viewing. The reasons are – one, the pace, two, the concept of magic realism. It is good that the film is released on Amazon and not in theatres.

Inspired from Dulqer Salman’s Charlie it tells the story of Maara played by Madahavan as discovered by Paaru played by Shraddha Srinath. Paaru is a restoration architect and a relentless romantic. When she goes to Kerala for an assignment she comes across some paintings by a person called Manimaaran/ Maara. Impressed by his art she tries to know more about him. Since he is elusive she tries to know about him through the real characters he drew. What follows is a stunning visual imagery mixed with the charm of Madhavan. Apart from being a painter Maara is also a wanderer who touches people’s lives. However, he is not a wanderer just for the sake of it. There is a larger purpose for it.

The first thing that strikes you about the film is the heavy influence of Imtiaz Ali and also Sanjay Leela Bhansali to an extent. Just like Imtiaz Ali’s films here also you have the concept of finding yourself and also the right atmospherics. You can also see the influence of the poet Rumi who himself is an inspiration to filmmakers like Imtiaz Ali.

Two things stand out most in Maara. One is the fantastic cinematography by Dinesh Krishnan and the art direction by Ajayan Chelissery. The painted roads, the ageing houses and the grass peeping out of the walls are all done well. Everything is aesthetically very good and works well for the camera. The art direction is equally well complimented by Dinesh Krishnan who captures the beauty of the landscapes and the created set designs.

As regards to the main plot it is definitely a ‘Feel Good’ story. Maara is jovial, friendly and empathetic to people irrespective of their status. In short a Good Samaritan. Among his interactions with people my favorite one is that of sex worker Selvi played by Abhirami. It reminds you of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Saawariya. The character of Madhavan itself is written well and the actor plays it with his trademark charm. He shines in both the light moments and also the emotional scenes. One of my favorite lines of Maara is “they will only remember the reason why you died and not you.’’ He says this to a girl who tries to commit suicide. The supporting cast also works well. Mouli as Velliya is particularly impressive as the person who brings up Maara. He plays his part with a perfect mixture of cuteness and strictness. His love for Meenakshi and the pre climax scene when he finally meets her leaves you emotionally moved.

The biggest problem with the film is the character of Paaru played by Shraddha Srinath. It is written very loosely and on top of it the actress doesn’t help her cause either. In fact you feel happy that Madhavan has only one scene with her and that too at the end. Her battles with the family have also not been dealt convincingly enough. They are forgotten midway through. Also you don’t see a single scene where Paaru is doing restoration work as she is supposed to do.

The pace of the film is also a major villain. It is only at halfway point that you get a sense of what the director is trying to say, that too only for niche audience. For the rest it will go over their head.

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